How To Destress Instantly
Three meditations you can do to calm your mind right now
Life is full of stressors: career; relationships; family commitments; never-ending daily errands; multiple meetings; and traffic-choked commutes… the list seems endless. Now pile on the constant connectedness of modern technology and social media – it’s no wonder so many of us often feel like our head is a pressure cooker ready to explode!
We’re living in stressful times, but our body and mind aren’t built for living under chronic stress without incurring negative consequences. Health issues such as insomnia, appetite problems, anxiety, mood swings, and even heart disease, have been linked to stress.
Every now and again, a break is needed for us to rejuvenate, relax, and press the reset button. Now, it would be nice if we could simply zip off for a vacation, take the day off, or luxuriate in in a long bath, but that’s rarely the reality for most of us.
Fortunately, there are ways to help us calm down an over-active mind and de-stress quickly – sometimes, in as little as three minutes! The secret lies in meditation.
Studies have shown meditation to be an effective self-help tool for the removal of mental clutter. The practice of meditation and deep breathing has also been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. According to Don Joseph Goeway, author of The End of Stress, the latest studies in neuroscience demonstrate that stress-related behaviours are hardwired into the brain – they’re less about our environment and more about how each individual reacts to stressful situations. When people in various high-pressure organisations tried meditation for stress, more than 90 percent experienced a change in their stress levels; more than 75 percent experienced improvement in creative problem solving, wellbeing, and in their work and family relationships.
So how do you quickly put a stop to anxiety and de-stress effectively? Try these mini meditations for stress management:
We are often in the habit of slapping labels on everything, including our thoughts. But when random thoughts appear, mindfulness trains the mind to recognise them simply as thoughts – they are neither good, nor bad.
For instance, “My presentation was really crappy. I might not have clinched the deal and if that happens, I think I might lose my job.” Instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to such a thought and becoming frazzled because of it, mindfulness teaches you to keep worry at bay by viewing it as, “Alright here’s that thought again. I’ve been here before, so this is nothing new. Like my other thoughts, this one will come and go too. There’s nothing special about this thought.”
Try this mindfulness meditation to regain control of your mind:
– Sit comfortably with your feet on the ground and your hands gently relaxed in your lap.
– Close your eyes and focus on your breath for four to five counts.
– Quietly observe what’s going through your mind, but try not to judge your thoughts or change them.
– Continue for three to five minutes. Towards the end of your meditation, set aside these thoughts and open your eyes slowly as you emerge feeling calmer after letting them go.
STOP ANXIETY IN ITS TRACKS
When anxious thoughts start to appear, you have a 90-second window to intervene before a stress reaction kicks in. Identify your triggers and if you feel stressful thoughts beginning to build up, avoid a full-blown anxiety attack with this meditation for stress management:
– Close your eyes and imagine that there’s a button at the centre of your palm that says “Clear”.
– Press the button with the index finger of your opposite hand.
– As you press it, visualise it signalling your stress response system to calm down.
– Count to three slowly and take a slow, deep breath with each count. As you go along, picture each number as a colour.
– Now on your final exhale, let go of the stressful thoughts and return to the present moment.
– If you’re still feeling anxious after one cycle of breathwork and counting, repeat the process slowly for a few times until you regain calm and composure.
LEFT NOSTRIL BREATHING
Have you noticed that when you’re stressed, you tend to breathe more quickly and take shallower breaths? “When you’re upset, pay attention to your breathing rate and your body’s water balance,” advises Rie Komiya, who teaches Kundalini Yoga and Meditation at The Yoga School. “Our breath connects us to our nervous system, and breathwork is a great self-help technique which uses the flow of your breath to clear your mind and help you to feel calmer, especially when you’re feeling tense or nervous, for example, before an important meeting.”
Rie explains, “Left nostril breathing is connected to cleansing energy. It stimulates the parasympathetic system, which promotes calmness, sensitivity, and receptivity. Breathing through the left nostril for five minutes can calm you and lower your blood pressure.”
– Cross your legs comfortably and keep your spine straight as you sit in Easy Pose.
– Rest your left hand in Gyan Mudra (a hand position that helps to facilitate inner wisdom by connecting the thumb to the index finger) on your left knee.
– Now close your eyes and focus on your Third Eye (located in the centre of the forehead, this energy centre is known in biological term as the pineal gland).
– Chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” to begin. This mantrameans “I bow to infinite wisdom. I bow to my own wisdom.” “Mantras are sounds with specific vibrations that affect our mind, body and soul,” shares Rie. “Chanting this mantra brings you support and protection from the long Kundalini Yoga lineage.”
– Use your right thumb to close your right nostril, keeping all the fingers pointing up towards the sky.
– Inhale and exhale gently and slowly from your left nostril.
– Continue for three minutes (or until you feel calmer).
– When you’re ready to end the meditation, inhale deeply and suspend your breath lightly for 10 to 30 seconds.
– Then exhale, relax, and open your eyes slowly.
– Complete the meditation by changing Sat Nam thrice.